By Rev. Amanda Hartmann Westmoreland
Associate Pastor of Family Life Ministries at Bolivar First UMC
Assigned Text: Psalm 25:1-10
Assigned Daily Word: Path
“Thank you, my Lord. Thank you, my Jesus. Wherever I am now is just for your grace.”
As I walked hand in hand with Neema, whose name means “Grace” in English, through her small Tanzanian village, she softly sang these words that the youth choir had sung the morning before during worship at Gamasara UMC. Our mission team was touring different homes to see the results of the Chicken Project, which helps provide women with chickens and protective enclosures so they can provide protein for their households and earn income by selling extra eggs.
While we were at Neema’s home, she returned from her day at school. Immediately recognizing our team from afar, she ran down the path to her home and gathered me up in a bear hug before I knew what was happening.
Once Neema saw us, she refused to let us go anywhere without her. As she accompanied me through her village, she slowly and patiently took my hand showing me the best path to take as we walked across plowed fields and past herds of grazing cattle. She guided me around pitfalls and trenches, and she went down steep inclines first to illustrate the speed with which I should walk to keep my balance without falling forward.
Neema guided me down paths to places where I learned about God’s ways and the Lord’s truth. I learned about extravagant generosity from Sarah who gave each member of our mission team three eggs from her chicken coop, a precious gift that represented days of collecting and that became the best breakfast we had in Africa the next morning.
I learned about intentional hospitality as one family pulled their couch out from their hut just so that they could offer us a place to sit and rest awhile as we visited. I learned about hope as woman after woman shared stories of the economic independence they had gained from the Chicken Project, able to send their children to school and save money for the future. I learned about joy as a grandmother placed her grandchild, born just the night before, in the arms of one of our team members so we could gaze on a wonderfully made child of God. And I learned about grace from a girl named Neema who made sure that I was never alone on the path to discovering God’s good and faithful love.
We are just a few days into the path of this year’s Lenten journey. Some of us have given up comfort or habit in order to clear our mind from distractions and refocus our soul’s energy on Jesus. Some of us have taken on new or renewed spiritual practices to help us commune with the Holy Spirit. Our goal is the same—to know the Lord’s ways and paths, to be led in God’s truth, to put our hope in the One who saves and redeems us (Psalm 10:4-5).
Whatever path you are on this Lent, may you experience God’s transformative grace and be assured of your belovedness as a child of God.
Prayer: God of Grace, make your ways known to us. Help us learn from those who You have placed along our path this Lenten season, that we may discover Your compassion and faithful love in the ways they guide and care for us.
1. What is a habit you have given up or a spiritual practice you have taken on to help you experience God during Lent this year?
2. Who is someone God might have placed on your path to help you learn more about God’s ways?
3. Spend some time in prayerful reflection, thanking God for the ways you have experienced God’s compassion and faithful love through other people.